The key term in relation to ADA Compliance is accessibility. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires accessibility specifically for building codes, transportation, government and publicly accessible spaces among other things. Around 2010 the law also began to question its applicability to websites, although its stringency can sometimes still be somewhat of a gray area.
That said, your business should provide accessibility through your website for many reasons, and it can even have additional benefits from a marketing perspective. The crucial first step, though, is to have a good understanding of just what ADA Compliance is for websites. Then you should be sure that you are working with a marketer or agency that understands and is capable of working to follow those guidelines.
The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 AA) provide the standards for accessibility and give direction. They are somewhat technical and cumbersome, and can be hard to follow. Through research and compilation, we are providing broad summary points here that should guide web design, development and content:
- Perceivable (Usability) – to ensure that media is usable by all to have (1) alternative text for images & visual content, (2) adaptability for content, and (3) distinguishability of content from its background.
- Operable (Functionality) – to ensure that (1) the site can be navigated by keyboard, (2) moving sections can be paused, and (3) pages & sections are clearly labeled.
- Understandable (Logic & Language) – the site should have (1) programmatically identifiable language on the page, (2) navigation that is consistent throughout, and (3) forms & input requests should have instructions.
- Robust (Compatible Code) – to ensure that the site’s code is compatible (HTML should validate) with assistive readers and follows current web standards.
As was mentioned before, there are also other benefits. Marketers and web designers are also aware that Google and other search engines prefer sites that meet accessibility guidelines for all web users, not just those with disabilities. Online marketing, done well, puts your business in front of your current and potential new customers, and some of those marketing efforts cross-pollinate well.
It is important and encouraging to note that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices also utilize many of the same guidelines as ADA compliance for websites. Search engines look favorably on areas like having descriptive (alternative) text for images, logical navigation and site responsiveness. WordPress is one of the web content management systems that lends itself well to meeting these standards if the work is done well by those building or maintaining the site.
All of this work can come together for your business and its website if you are utilizing the right professionals. ADA Compliance is not only the right thing to follow, but accessibility can also lend itself to letting your website best serve all of its potential users. When that happens, everyone wins.